The most important question that anyone will ever have to answer is “who is Jesus Christ?” Why is this the most important? Simply put, it will dictate your entire life, every decision, desire, direction, and your future destination. Whether you view Him as never existing, a simple good teacher, a divine created being, or God Himself, the outcomes of your life hang on your personal view of His identity.
For someone who disregards Him as a figment of history’s imagination, they will not be affected by Him or His teachings in the slightest and will thus have to base their choices and moral compass on some other thing, person, or philosophy. For those who acknowledge Jesus as a good teacher or created being like us, but stop short at recognizing the identity given Him in the Bible, may be guided by the teachings they like or agree with. However, when confronted with a difficult truth, these people will shy away or look to other paths for guidance. The categories of people mentioned so far are all really in one category together. Let’s call them category one. Their lives are not consumed by Jesus and they are open to influence from outside forces at a far greater extent that someone who believes the answer that the Bible gives to the question “who is Jesus Christ?” Let’s jump into the Bible and take a look at a moment when Jesus Himself poses this question:
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV)
First, Jesus asks what the world labels Him as. The world would be those who are in the first category I mentioned earlier. They either don’t acknowledge His existence or they don’t attribute to Him the correct identity. Category one members would most likely label Jesus in a positive way. Notice here, He is associated with great men from earlier in Israel’s history. Most of the world agrees that He walked this earth and that He had a great influence. Members of most religions, at the very least, call Him a great teacher. Most of us would be honored to be thought of in these ways. The difference is, these are insults compared to who Jesus really is.
So Jesus continues and turns the question to His disciples. These are the people who make up those in category two. Those who believe that Jesus is the very image of God, and God in the flesh, make up the second category. In simple terms, there are followers/disciples of the true Jesus, and then there is everyone else. The first of Jesus’s disciples to respond is Peter. He states that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Son, in this context, refers to the fact that He is of God, one with God, God in the flesh. Jesus then congratulates Peter on answering wisely and correctly. Jesus says that Peter’s faith in this fact is what the entire church is to be built on. He also says that this faith is given by God not man. So that means that people will declare the identity of Jesus based on human perspective or on the Godly perspective. For those who believe Jesus is who the bible says He is, also believe that Jesus is everything that makes up their life. Check out Colossians chapter three.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Notice the effects that the view of Jesus has on the believer. The people of category two, those who say Jesus is who the bible says He is, will spend the rest of their lives seeking the things above, meaning heavenly/godly. They will live as sojourners in this world. They will live to please their heavenly Father because of the extreme grace that He as shown them. Their decisions will be weighed against the truths that Jesus taught and demonstrated. They will live as though He is their everything and that they owe Him everything. They will seek to understand what please Him which will transform their decisions, desires, direction, and destination. They do this because, Jesus taking our place on the cross and dying for our sins, was not a mere mortal man or good teacher laying His life down. They do this because it was the God of the universe, their very creator, who stepped down out of heaven to take our place. They do this because they realize the goodness of God and it has radically changed them. For those in category one, the doubters and believers in a false Jesus, they have no reason to do this. A person either has the foundation of Christ to direct their life or they don’t and what determines that is how you answer the question: “who do you say I AM?” posed by Jesus Himself.
Before we end, lets take a look at how Jesus answered this question for us:
John 6: 35, 48 I am the bread of life
-Meaning He is what sustains people, not just in a physical sense, but in a spiritual one.
John 8: 12, 9:5 I am the light of the world
-Meaning He brings truth into a dark and sinful world.
John 8: 58 Before Abraham was, I am
-Meaning He was in the beginning of time with God because He is God.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd
-Meaning He is there to lead us into real “life” and eternity.
John 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life
-Meaning He is the one that will resurrect us from the day once we are gone if we believed in Him.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life
-Meaning He is the only way to heaven.
Now let’s take a peak at other parts in the bible that show His identity:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men…14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-4, 14
So to wrap it up, the weight of our answer to this question could not be any greater. Not only will our answer dictate the way we live our lives here on earth, but it will also determine our destination after we die. For those in category two, there is nothing to fear, but every reason to be excited and hopeful. However, for those in category one, not only will their lives be far emptier and far less impacting, but the worst is yet to come. Fortunately, God doesn’t want anyone to perish or spend eternity away from Him so He’s made the way simple and glorious…and that way is Jesus.